As the latest research confirms that “almost 70 per cent of people now believe that travel companies should ensure their holidays help the local people and economy” (ABTA Travel Trends Report 2018), the Shinta Mani Foundation is proud to debut 27 new graduates from its School of Hospitality in Siem Reap, Cambodia. A total of 270 graduates – all local people from disadvantaged backgrounds – have now graduated from the Shinta Mani School of Hospitality since its foundation in 2004, maintaining a 100 per cent employment rate.
With such varied outreach projects within the local community, the Shinta Mani Foundation has an inclusive definition of “disadvantaged”, including not just students from low-income families but also young adults without a familial structure, women rescued from or at risk of trafficking, and individuals from shelters. Over the course of 10 months, students are provided with complimentary educational training with a focus on hospitality which would otherwise be unavailable to them.
The course combines both classroom and in situ training elements. The classroom schedule includes English language, computer literacy and life skills (e.g. personal finance, career planning, conflict resolution, health and fitness) lessons. In situ training places each student in an operational department within one of the Shinta Mani Hotels – e.g. spa, maintenance, front office, food and beverage, culinary or housekeeping – where they complete an internship. Students receive free tuition, books, uniforms and meals for the duration of the training.
“We are so proud of this class”, said Brad Akins, Director of the Foundation. “Every single student that began the long 10-month process of training with us, learning what it takes to have a career in the hospitality industry, has successfully completed the course. What’s more, every one of them had already accepted employment at a hotel of their choice before they walked onto the stage for the official graduation ceremony!”
With a phenomenal 100 per cent employment rate, graduates of the Shinta Mani School of Hospitality have gone on to secure roles with Shinta Mani Hotels, AMAN, Raffles and Sofitel to name but a few.
Further evidence of the School of Hospitality’s success can be seen in the number of graduates who have progressed into management positions: guests at Shinta Mani Shack will be greeted by Front of House Manager Moun Samrech, who started as an F&B server after graduating in 2007; another 2007 graduate, Mom Vannak, is now Front of House Manager at Shinta Mani Angkor; while Ung Sokuntheary, from the class of 2006, started as an F&B server but now holds a position giving back to students at the Shinta Mani Foundation.
In attendance at the graduation ceremony were the creator of the Foundation and owner of Shinta Mani Hotels, Sokoun Chanpreda and his business partner, renowned architect and luxury hotel designer Bill Bensley. Sokoun expressed his amazement at the long and successful careers of past graduates, in particular several young chefs one of whom went on to open his own trendy riverside restaurant, Labaab, in Phnom Penh. Bill expressed his sincere joy at seeing waves of young Khmer men and women graduate and build careers that will support themselves and their families. The intake for the 2019 training class is now underway; the course will start on January 7th and run through to October 1st.
With past graduates and current students a constant presence at Shinta Mani Hotels, guests can see first-hand the direct positive impact of their tourism dollars during their stay. Committed to supporting the most in need local communities by providing vital services, developing schemes to increase human capital, and equipping them with the tools to overcome the constraints of poverty, the work of the Shinta Mani Foundation stretches far beyond the School of Hospitality. Since 2004 the Foundation has made meaningful progress by implementing extensive programmes including medical and dental clinics, business education, farming support, provision of school supplies, small business loans and the building of water wells and schools.
Shinta Mani Foundation’s impact on local communities between 2004 and 2018:
- 1,522 water wells built
- 890 bicycles donated
- 270 Khmer students have graduated from the Shinta Mani School of Hospitality and are now fully employed in the immediate township and local countryside
- 110 homes constructed
- 62 small business loans provided
- Over 10,000 dental check-ups performed
Shinta Mani Hotels donates a percentage of all guests’ daily room rates to the non-profit Shinta Mani Foundation.
Those looking to get involved can visit and volunteer with the Shinta Mani Foundation during their stay in Siem Reap, or book Shinta Mani’s 3-night ‘Open Doors, Open Hearts’ package which enables guests to visit local villages to see some of the Foundation’s work in action. Rates start from USD 1,173 per couple, excluding tax and service. Additional nights are available at best available rates.